If you haven’t discovered it yet, Sourcemap.org is an amazing free open-source software project that allows people all over the globe to track the origin and source of all of the materials that go into our everyday products, and share this information publicly. The founder of Sourcemap.org, Leo Bonanni, created this project to encourage more public transparency and accountability around product manufacturing and materials and to share this information with the world. As Bonanni says, it is about, “publishing the story behind products: what they are made out of, where they come from and what the environmental and social impacts of that might be.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Bonanni — from the 2010 Greener Gadgets conference — above.
At the 2010 Greener Gadgets conference Bonanni told the audience that the founders of Sourcemap.org didn’t, “want there to be any excuse for people to not know where things come from.” On their open source website you can track the components of your laptop computer, your iPod, your new Ikea bed or your brand new kitchen appliance back to the mines where they were exhumed from the earth. You can even learn about those mines, the people that work there, and how they function.
The website allows anyone to go in and build a Sourcemap of any product on earth, create a carbon footprint for each product, and then share that information with the masses. The technology allows anyone to go in and learn about where things come from, how they are built and how far they are shipped. If you are looking to make informed decisions about your purchases, this is a great place to start. Bonanni describes our current use of rare materials as a widespread problem — most electronics contain rare earth minerals which are in limited supply, yet many people buy them and discard them as if their components were infinite.